Ronald van der Kemp has taken every measure he can to ensure that while he uses recycled fabric, his designs look new and exciting.
Much in line with most of his previous work, Van der Kemp’s Spring 2021 Couture show was whimsical and grand. It portrayed the unpredictability of life in today’s hectic environment. The atmosphere was further solidified and brought to life by elevating orchestral music used in order to further instil a sense of wonder and elegance in the viewer.
In addition, there were some other more technical elements used to further elevate the show, utilising a wide range of materials and designs as well as more technical aspects such as varying camera filters and effects. The show created an almost surreal environment, invoking the same sort of feelings you get from looking at photographs by Tim Walker.
Adaptation has always been at the root of Ronald van der Kemp’s designs, making his brand the first couture house that prioritises sustainability above all, sourcing its fabrics from vintage and upcycled materials in order to realise his designs. Still, the ongoing pandemic has challenged him to adapt at a larger scale. While the world’s been at an unsteady halt, the fashion industry has only sped up, with brands racing to be the most wearable in these times. Even still, the Dutch designer refuses to succumb to homey loungewear and instead opted to focus on the idea of making something “cool and interesting” out of “the lowest of the low”, as he explained to Vogue.
Despite the decrease in available recycled materials, Van Der Kemp was able to create a collection that, instead of accepting defeat in a time of idleness, chose to focus on the exuberance of all that can happen behind closed doors, all while being limited to reusing materials from his own previous collections. During a Zoom preview of his collection, the designer explained that he has not bought [any new fabric] in more than a year. Still, he was able to create a range full of exciting and versatile pieces.
While the designs themselves may not be fit for everyone’s taste, there’s an element of juxtaposition and resourcefulness to each one that deserves its due praise. The collection felt dark and moody at times, but boasted a burst of bold colours and patterns in sparks. Among the fully monochromatic looks, there were one or two pops of bright red and royal blue or pale pink and blue. The overall concept of gathering scraps to create something grandiose felt crowded by varying prints and fabrics, but they managed to mesh together in order to create a coherent collection. One piece specifically, was a gown that almost took on a split personality. This could be perceived as three different pieces, depending on what angle you looked at it. Other pieces shared the vibe, with a result the collection created a glam punk feel by utilising very sharp angles and exaggerated proportions in its design. A growing signature for the designer.
For what the collection was, an ode to creating a sense of everythingness out of nothingness, it achieved just that. Through using only limited materials already in inventory, Van Der Kemp was able to embody the feeling we’ve all experienced too much of late; of going mad in these most trying times but just having to sit idly by while the world around us spins at an unchanged pace.